Toyota rivalled Audi
Toyota earned a second place at Le Mans 24 Hours after fighting toe to toe with the Audis in a 81st edition that was overshadowed by the death of Allan Simonsen early in the race. At the wheel of the TS030 HYBRID N.8, Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin equalled Japanese giant best finishes in 1992, 1994 and 1999.
Starting behind the three Audis, the N.8 ran smoothly for 347 laps in French classic. It was not the case for two of the opposition’s cars, overtaken after seven hours before it chased Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval who finally handed Audi its 12th win and a 9th personal success for Danish star, one lap clear. Eleven Safety Car periods and several downpours toughened the race.
A bit lower in the classification, Tristan Gommendy, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues brought Signatech’s Alpine A450 to ninth in LMP2, 35 years after an Alpine triumphed in Le Mans.
27. Hitting nastily the barriers at Tertre Rouge ten minutes into the race on board of the GTE pole-sitter Aston Martin, Allan Simonsen, 34, was the first driver killed during the race since Jo Gartner, 27 years ago. Sebastien Enjolras lost his live in practice in 1997. A saddened Kristensen dedicated his win to his country-mate.
“I am happy with this result but my dream is to win Le Mans so I am determined we will come back even stronger next year”. Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President, already turns focus to 2014.
Into the final half-hour, Buemi, brought the TS030 HYBRID back on the lead lap before lifting. Three hours earlier, Nicolas Lapierre heavily crashed the N.7 while he was fighting for the podium. Alongside Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima, joined ended up fifth.
Sao Paulo 6 Hours (1 September)
1. #2 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 * 348 laps (34 stops)
2. #8 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid LMP1 * 347 laps (30 stops)
3. #3 Gene/Di Grassi/Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 347 laps (30 stops)
4. #7 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid LMP1 * 341 laps (29 stops)
5. #1 Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 * 338 laps (32 stops)
6. #21 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka Racing HPD ARX-03c LMP1 * 332 laps (29 stops)
7. #35 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan LMP2 * 329 laps (30 stops)
8. #24 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan LMP2 * 328 laps (31 stops)
9. #26 Rusinov/Martin/Conway G-Drive Racing Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 * 327 laps (32 stops)
10. #42 Mardenborough/Ordonez/Krumm Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan LMP2 327 laps (28 stops)